Mailinglist Archive: opensuse (4219 mails)

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Re: [opensuse] SCO is toast... Novell go get em
  • From: "Greg Freemyer" <greg.freemyer@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2006 15:59:08 -0500
  • Message-id: <87f94c370611301259n7b608884gb66b64eee9aab80f@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
On 11/30/06, M Harris <harrismh777@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
On Thursday 30 November 2006 13:47, Anders Johansson wrote:
> Novell's head of kernel development is Greg
> Kroah-Hartman.
Now we're getting someplace...

... this is what I am really getting at... and I genuinely am seeking
knowledge; what does it mean to be head of kernel development at Novell? ...
or anywhere else for that matter? (see Greg Freemyer's explanation)

Is the kernel that ships with Suse the "official" kernel that I can download
from the official site unmodified <?> or, is it modified by kernel
development at Novell? note: I am not asking whether the kernel has non gpl
code at this point... only whether Novell kernel development modifies the
official kernel before redistribution and redistributes it under the gpl
license, or--- whether Novell modifies the kernel via the process Freemyer

And I have another question along the same lines... consider:

"Linux 2.6.15 consists of 18,811 files and 7,290,070 lines of code."

Folks, that's a lot of lines of code... what I want to know is how many of
them were coded (patched) by Novell kernel development? What do those patches
do? How many of those patches, or future patches, will M$ control behind the
scenes... and if Freemyer's explanation is correct... how can we be sure that
the "patches" that get through are *ok*. And I don't mean gpl vs non gpl...
and I don't mean legal vs illegal... this is a control issue for me... I
mean, controlled by M$ to provide degradation of performance, or a back-door,
or anything else... that gets slipped by the watch-dogs on the Linus
team----- *

If you look at the SUSE Kernel source RPM (or any other SUSE source
RPM) you will see it has a few different sections. One big section is
the vanilla kernel code. ie. Straight from as released
by Linus Torvalds.

Then you will find another section that is just a bunch of patches. I
have not looked recently, but in the pre-Novell days it was hundreds
of patches. These are all patches that get applied to the vanilla
source prior to it being compiled. None of those patches have been
formally accepted into the vanilla kernel by Linus.

This is typical of _every_ distribution. Particularily in 2004-2005
the vanilla kernel team never released any patches to released
kernels, so if for instance 2.6.12 was found to have a bug then the
vanilla kernel people would say "sorry not my problem, we will get the
fixed in our next full release which will be 2.4.14". This practice
made it mandatory for the distro people to accept and maintain patches
for the kernels they had based a release upon.

At some point in the last year, the kernel team assigned GregKH to be
the stable kernel maintainer. (I may have that title wrong and this
has nothing to do with Novell, except possibly he does this on company
time). As such job is to track serious bugs in the released kernel
and accept patches to it for formal release from So
prior to today's release of 2.6.19, GregKH would have been solely
responsible for accepting patches into the 2.6.18 series.

So 2.6.19 just made the transition. Prior to its release today (or
yesterday) it was under Linus Torvolds pervue. Now that it is
released GregKH will handle any additional patches it gets and will
handle point releases like

In addition to the above GregKH is the USB subsystem so for the about
to begin 2.6.20 series of prerelease kernels all USB subsystem patches
have to be submitted to him. He will collect them up and submit them
to Linus in batches. It is a general rule that during the first 2
weeks after a full release feature enhancement patches will be
accepted by Linus, then only bug-fix patches until the next full

So for USB GregKH should have been collecting new feature enhancement
patches for the last couple of months. He now has 2 weeks to submit
those to Linus. At that point the "merge window" closes and Linus
will only accept bugfix patches. Typically it takes a couple of
months to get the next release stable, so 2.6.20 will likely be
released about 2 1/2 months from now.

FYI I don't know what GregKH's duties are at Novell and I didn't know
he worked for them, but most of the core Linux Kernel team is employed
in the Linux industry, so it is not much of a surprise that he does.

Greg Freemyer
The Norcross Group
Forensics for the 21st Century
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